Second miner killed in S.Africa platinum strike

JOHANNESBURG Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:50am EST

JOHANNESBURG Feb 20 (Reuters) - A second miner has been killed in clashes between rival unions striking at Impala Platinum's flagship plant, deepening more than a month of labour unrest at the world's biggest platinum mine, police said on Monday.

Regional police spokesman Thulani Ngubane said a riot started on Sunday when 600 men went house-to-house through a township trying to force others to join them in a vandalism spree at the mine, which accounts for 15 percent of world platinum output.

"Their intention was to take them to the mineshaft. The police struggled to disperse the crowd," said Ngubane. The dead man had been shot, and another was found with a bullet wound in the thigh, he added.

Tensions at Implats' Rustenburg operation, 120 km (80 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, have been high since more than 17,000 workers were sacked following an illegal stay-away by drill operators on Jan. 12.

Striking miners fought running battles with police last week, and a man was stripped naked and beaten to death by a mob for trying to report for work.

The industrial action has brought the mine to a standsill and is costing Impala, the world's second-biggest producer of the precious metal, about 3,000 ounces a day in lost output.

The violence appears to stem from a dispute between factions of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), South Africa's largest union, and a little-known rival called the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). (Reporting By Sherilee Lakmidas; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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